MIRECC / CoE
VISN 5 MIRECC - Small Grants Program for Recovery
Small Grant Project Example: 2018 Summit on Military Sexual Trauma
Highlights from this MIRECC Sponsored Event
Utilizing funding from the VISN5 MIRECC Small Grants Program for Recovery, the DCVA Medical Center and Veterans Mental Health Advisory Council recently offered a full-day summit on Military Sexual Trauma. The planning team, which included the DC MST coordinator, Trauma Services, Mental Health Department and leadership from the Veterans Council, created an engaging and activating day of professional and experiential expertise. Under the motto “We are Stronger Together. Accountability, Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment,” more than 120 attendees gathered in the Freedom Auditorium to listen to diverse speakers. Speakers related personal experiences of military sexual trauma, of assisting survivors, and of the complexities of prosecuting perpetrators, with expert knowledge and information, and calls for further action.
The Summit’s centerpiece was a large panel of female and male Veterans who are military sexual assault survivors, sharing their personal experiences. Here are a few quotes from them:
"I was sexually assaulted in the Marine Corps by other men [in the 1990s]. Zero resources available, speaking up was not an option and I had work to do. So, I did not revisit it for almost 18 years… but it finds a way to leak out and not in a healthy way, in a damaging way to your life and your family and yourself. That is why I am so glad to see the programs now. I am now a nationally certified victim advocate for survivors of MST, especially men. I hear a lot of horror stories but also a lot of powerful stories of people standing back up."
"I was very green when I joined the military. I joined because I was a single parent and wanted to make a future for my child and myself. I was raped by my drill sergeant. I did not say anything because I was afraid they would make me leave. …it took two marriages failing and twenty years later for me to realize I needed help."
"…[decades] of my life are just gone, accomplishments that I threw the wrench into. It’s hard to live with. I’m not sure where I’m going next. Inside I’m still a train wreck. I want to love and trust people more than everything, but I don’t know how to get there. But I’ll get back up again."
Small Grant Project Example: Warriors Tattoos and the Stories They Tell
Dr. Jacqueline Cleland and a dedicated group of Veterans and staff at the Martinsburg VAMC have created a powerful set of recovery stories and photographic portraits grounded in the personal meanings of Veterans’ tattoos. Funding from the VISN-5 MIRECC Small Grants Program for Recovery Innovations was combined with significant in-kind contributions from Martinsburg to create this exhibit. The multi-media collection includes a booklet titled Warriors, Tattoos, and the Stories they Tell, highlighting each of the featured Veterans and their stories. Dr. Cleland remarked, “Our hope is that this Veteran inspired project will foster curiosity, encourage dialog, and broaden understanding with its distinctly visual display of personal narratives.”